Does PA Have A Psychological Effect On Your Child? How?


Does your child's PA have a psychological effect on them? How?

(I have to get the questions down at least now and then I'll place my answers in tomorrow when I'm awake [img][/img] )

Many thanks and best wishes! [img][/img]


On Jan 18, 2003

I think it does, but I don't know to what extent. He's only now (at 6) starting to verbalize thoughts/feelings about "it". Asking questions, noticing things, feeling 'different' at school, etc.

I have spoken with his school counselor who suggested that he is affected by it - "How could he NOT be?" DS hasn't talked with the counselor, or had any reason to. This is just something the counselor brought up in a conversation with me one day.

I agree... how could it NOT affect him psychologically?

On Jan 18, 2003

Definitely he has a strong sense of being 'different' (but he's also different other ways.) As well, he learned very early that the world is not a fair place when other children had the freedom that he didn't.

On Jan 18, 2003

It sure does but I've spent his lifetime showing him how really different and special he is in so many other ways.

My children are different and we celebrate our differences. I made sure PA had a GOOD psychological effect on all of us.

When I say different, I mean not typical for teenagers. Close to home, close to parents, do not follow the crowd, smart, bookish, revered by other adults and peers around them. It's just different.

Having PA in the family makes us just a bit more different and that difference helps us pass on the PA message to those around us.

DD's boyfriends mother who lives 500 miles from us and whom we have never met is now reading labels in grocery stores. She never did before!


[This message has been edited by Peg541 (edited January 18, 2003).]

On Jan 22, 2003

Yes, I believe it does. [img][/img] Last summer, I saw Jesse's anxiety heightened re his PA, which I posted about here, for what I could see as being no reason at all (i.e., no recent reaction, etc.).

I know that he is afraid to try new foods and I really suspect that aside from being a picky eater it does have to do with his allergy.

I have seen him in grocery stores being afraid to be near the peanuts. I actually took him up to a really well packaged bag and asked him if he wanted to touch it. He didn't, but I went into my explanation of how he could and he would be okay.

I know that there is fear and anxiety. I also believe there is anger (lashing out at people who threaten him re his PA) and yet he often says "that's okay Mama" when he can't eat something or do something because of his PA (which would seem like a contradiction).

I know that he can feel different and excluded.

I think he feels a lot of things that his Father and I felt as children (extremely sensitive we both were) and we were so hoping that our children wouldn't have to go through the same things. Yet, we ended up with one child that for the sake of his LIFE is experiencing the same or similar things that we did. It's really sad. [img][/img]

I strongly believe that Jesse's PA has affected him psychologically. Oh, and the fear of DEATH. I know when he had his anaphylactic reaction last month, when he was afraid to lie down on the hospital bed it was because he was afraid if he laid down, he wouldn't get back up again (i.e., he would die). That a terrible thing to carry around in a young brain. [img][/img]

I like to think that we talk openly and honestly with Jesse and that we deal with it all fairly well. Although I post a lot here [img][/img] truth be told, Jesse doesn't know 99.9% of the time when I am anxious about a situation with him re PA. Or the thoughts that I carry re PA. I come across very calmly with him.

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Jan 22, 2003

A big fat yes! She has always felt different but since the brat at church breathed on her after eating sunflower seeds, now she is afraid of people. And places and going anywhere. I don't blame her but wonder if I am doing the right things...... We can beat ourselves up, can't we? I hate that she is afriad of people but some people can not be trusted!

On Jan 23, 2003

Hi Cindy,

Wade has been affected by his PA more than I realized. We spent some time at my (safe) sisters house over the holidays.

My sister has always been great at helping me keep Wade safe. Most of my siblings were there as well as spouces, kids etc. My sister made garlic bread from bakery bread that had a "may contain" warning, she was really upset when I pointed it out and offered to throw it out. Since Wade does not like garlic bread, I did not feel that was necessary (comfort zone). I just told Wade that the bread was not safe for him and explained that other family members could eat it and he could eat the other "safe" bread.

This was fine until my 21 year old nephew picked Wade up after dinner and Wade became hysterical, when I finally calmed him down, he told me that my nephew had eaten the "not safe" bread and had picked him up before washing his hands. Wade thought he was going to die.

He's had a couple of nightmares about PA as well as an exercize induced asthma attack at the school where he thought he was having an anaphylactic reaction and completely freaked when the teacher did not give him his epi pen (that's another story).

I have to say that even at 4 he is so cautious about his allergy, he even questions me or DH about the safety of certain foods.

This does worry me some because although we have always stressed how important it is for him to be safe, I always said that if he had a reaction, he would have to have the epi pen and would have to go to the hospital. I have never told him he could die.

Like I said, kids are more aware than we could imagine.

Take care,


On Jan 23, 2003

I think the way Leah's pa and tna mostly affect her at this point - at age eight - is that she doesn't want to stand out as being different. For example: she usually doesn't want other people to know she needs to carry her epi-pen, and she would often rather have nothing to eat rather than a "safe" snack that's different from what everyone else is having. She also will sometimes refuse foods by just saying "no thanks", and not add "I'm allergic". (Maybe this is polite, who knows?!) She is doing a lot better than she used to. When she was younger, like in kindergarten, she would put her hands over her ears when we would try to remind her not to eat at certain places, etc. I feel so sad writing that. At the time it felt so frusturating, but now I realize how difficult a burden it must have seemed to her. She seems to handle everything pretty well, now. It's been over three years since her last reaction, however. I think if/when she has another it will totally freak her out. She is very sensitive and has anxiety about a lot of stuff. Her anxiety doesn't seem to focus on her allergies, though.

I guess the main thing is that she wants to be like everybody else. I am the team parent for her basketball team this year. I asked her if she wanted me to mention in my "snack letter" not to bring stuff with peanuts or nuts. This was the first time I have given her a choice like that. I did it because they eat their snacks outside, after the games, so there is no risk from physically interacting with kids after they've eaten. She said she didn't want me to put it in. I thought long and hard about it and then handled it this way: I sent an e-mail to everyone with which games they were responsible for bringing snack. I added at the bottom "please let me know if your child has any food allergies. Leah is allergic to peanuts and all nuts." I figured this way I wasn't telling them not to bring nut stuff, but at least they were informed. I actually didn't tell Leah that I did this. I think at eight, she doesn't have to know everything that goes on behind the scenes, although I mostly try and keep her in the loop.

Sorry I went on so long... [img][/img] Miriam

On Oct 14, 2003

This is a very interesting thread. I just enrolled my son in preschool, he's 4. This is an issue I am very concerned about. I have noticed that PA has been such a dramatically life changing experience for our family, and the psychological implications of living with peanut allergy seem enormous. I have lost countless hours of sleep, had panic attacks, and find myself to be very anxious. His preschool has been very assertive in addressing his needs and providing a safe environment for him, and I am grateful. I am interested in how living with PA has affected everyone, including parents, spouse's, siblings, etc. Actually, I would like to see more psychological research done to address our needs, especially our issues with stress, coping and adjustment. It seems as though this is so overwhelming that it can easily contribute to a wide variety of symptoms. This board is a support group for me, because of all of you sharing your experiences. At one time I felt all alone, and knowing that my feelings aren't invalid and that you all can relate is very helpful. Anyways, I have to get back to work but I just wanted to write and say how important I think this is. Maybe I'll propose research into it, What do you guys think about that? I did a lit search and didn't find much info.

On Oct 14, 2003

packrat, always interested when I see an *old* thread of mine re-raised. Like you (and I hope I'm not being presumptious), I believe I have spent a great deal of time on this discussion board delving into different questions/discussions not only about the physical reality of PA but how it affects us psychologically. Now, of course, not to the degree that you would like to see it studied. Who would you like to see it studied by?

I raised this question obviously. I have raised the question about how many PA parents are on anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication. I have raised questions about nightmares or night-time anxiety in PA parents (and another member did recently as well).

Just the other night I had a PA dream. They're rare for me. But I was yelling out in my sleep at my non-PA daughter and my DH woke me up and thought I was dreaming about him in a negative way and it was just really weird (I'll post about the dream later).

How did PA Affect Your Day To-Day? Did It? Questions like that. Is it possible that a food allergy could affect you on a daily basis? (I believe the answer is yes, we've just learned to adapt and live with it). The little "blips" I talk about that happen along the way as we journey that don't happen to non-PA parents.

How many of us are seen as Psycho Mom from He** by our children's schools simply for some basic requirements we have for our PA children to attend school safely? Or how many of us leading peanut/nut free lives are seen as some kind of lunatic fringe? (a comment similar to that has been made to me, believe me)?

All of these things. And yes, how does it affect us psychologically.

I have a high school not directly across the street from me, but just down the street, so I get a lot of litter (one of my major sore spots in life in general) on my front lawn. Yesterday, I saw a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup wrapper on the front lawn but not close to my front door.

Any other person picks up the offending trash, brings it into the house and puts it in the garbage. To me, it's okay, get a plastic bag for it, go back outside and pick it up using the plastic bag, then bring it inside, put it in another plastic bag and then put it directly in a garbage bag that will hopefully be leaving my house within a short period of time. Not how a non-PA parent deals with that bit of litter on the front lawn. Or, and make sure I wash my hands quite thoroughly.

Damned if coming home from school tonight, my PA son didn't notice the wrapper on the lawn and I told him not to worry about it (meaning I will have to deal with it tomorrow) and although I was going to say that my guy, almost 8, is pretty cool and not anxious about his allergy right now, he didn't want to see that wrapper on his front lawn. And I don't know how he FELT. And I don't want to come in the house and question him about how he felt about seeing the wrapper, etc. Do you know what I'm saying? It's a complex thing.

I have raised questions about feeling guilty about being able to do certain things with my non-PA daughter that I can't do with my PA son as comfortably (or at all).

I've delved into it a lot and yet I also recognize, just in responding to your post and seeing this thread re-raised, that there are a ton more questions out there. For example, are any of our PA children experiencing nightmares or bad dreams re their PA? Are any of them experiencing what would be considered *abnormal* anxiety re their PA? Are any of them being medicated because of it? That type of thing. What happens to our children as they age and become young adults and yes, dream, become anxious, etc. Those questions that I haven't really had to deal too much with yet with my PA son (although I have the anxiety to a degree).

The threats that some of our PA children have endured at school or elsewhere. How does that affect them? Us? How does PA affect a marriage when the parents do not agree on how something should be dealt with?

As you can see, I have thought a lot about how PA has affected us psychologically, but, as I say, I've only touched the tip of the iceberg. There are so many questions to be asked and explored. So many.

Just very interesting to see this question re-raised.

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Oct 15, 2003

Hey! I too have spent countless hours thinking about all of these implications. I have lost countless hours of sleep with worry. I remember how it felt when my son had his first reaction, and the major life change that accompanied it. I was actually contemplating doing research of my own. Because I feel it needs to be addressed. I'm in a position to do that, but I have so many ideas and concerns it's difficult to know what area to address. Social anxiety, Panic attacks, depression, development. I am especially concerned with my son, and his development so that manifests itself in my wanting to research effects on children and coping, etc. etc. etc. but also on family, especially parents. I have had so many emotional moments, and a range of experiences surrounding this. I am really interested in this, I think it's important. Especially as my son is developing, I feel so responsible to him to make sure he is well adjusted and able to function in a healty way, as well as safe and protected. I know I'm not alone, and also how beneficial the support of others has been to me in coping. I feel as though I am beginning to ramble, but I am finding now that I am in graduate school and studying psychopathology, that I can relate alot of this to what we go through. What if I could do something to address this issue, and help others (and myself) dealing with this? It's just a thought.

On Oct 15, 2003

I am nearly certain that there has been research into the stress that parents of severely allergic children face. What I remember reading is that parents of severely allergic kids are actually under MORE stress than parents of kids with other illnesses/problems that would seem to be very stressful. (I can't remember what those other things were.) I am thinking that I probably read this in that New York Times Magazine article from a couple of years ago. Or, it could have been published in a FAAN newsletter. I really cannot remember; but I feel that I read it someplace reputable. Packrat, if you haven't read Lisa Cipriano Collins's book "Raising a child with Severe Food Allergies" (I think that is the title) - I urge you to do so. While I'm not sure it covers much research, it will certainly validate all the feelings you are having. I have been very open on the board about my struggles with depression and anxiety. I have had a lot of anxiety regarding the pa and tna (on behalf of my daughter who is now 8 3/4). I finally went on anti-depression/anti-anxiety medication and am doing 1000 times better.

Lots of best wishes, Miriam

On Oct 15, 2003

There was a speaker at a FAAN conference a few years ago that addressed this; it was for the patients though, not the families. I can't remember his name but he was with Mt. Sinai in NYC and was associated with Dr. Sampson. He was discussing post-traumatic stress syndrome in food allergic individuals.

If you contact either FAAN or Dr. Sampson's office, they should be able to steer you to him.


On Oct 16, 2003

Thanks, that's really interesting. I'm going to do a search on here and if anyone has any info regarding this please let me know. take care.

On Jan 7, 2004

Simply re-raising. [img][/img]

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Jan 18, 2004

I was in Dr. Sampson's office on Friday and a med student was passing out surveys to parents of food allergic children. According to what I overheard, Dr. Sampson is doing a quality of life survey to see the impact or food allergies on the parent/ child/ family. Also, a few weeks ago I spoke with a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai and was told he and Dr. Sampson are trying to start a study looking a post traumatic stress in people who have had anaphylactic reactions.


Edited to add: I don't know how accurate this information is; it is just ifno I have come across in passing. It may or may not actually happen-- it could just be "all talk" at this point.

[This message has been edited by ajinnj (edited January 18, 2004).]

On Jan 18, 2004

Allison, I would be very interested in participating in a survey. If it comes to be and isn't U.S. specific, could you let me know, if you do find out?

I know that if you visit [url=""][/url] there is a link there where you can read about parental stress.

If you think about it, if we experience such stress as parents of a PA child, think about the stress the child must feel.

I know that Jesse internalizes most of his stress re his allergy.

I also know I posted in November month about him freaking out at the Santa Claus parade.

Quality of life of PA parents/children as compared to those with children with other medical conditions/disabilities. I think it's the DEATH factor. I think it's not being able to control EVERYTHING that your child may come into contact with.

How many of us really honestly look into the future of our PA children and think, what if? What if they do the same stupid things that we did (or I did or Jesse's Father did)? It's not the same for a PA child. Not that I would condone my drunken teenage behaviour with either of my children, but when we're talking about Jesse, it's a whole other ball game. What about when they become sexually active?

Do we start worrying about stuff that's going to happen down the road earlier than other parents?

Look at how many parents start posting here in the Schools section LONG before their child is going to enter pre-school or school simply so they can get all the information they feel they need to get their child into school in relative safety.

Other parents, yes, they have to think about it in May month when they register their child for September month, but that's it.

Or, even for example, my own personal experience this year of my son sitting home for the first two days of school, never happened before to him, did this year, while every other Mother simply experienced the regular separation anxiety of the first day of school I was sitting home making phone calls so my son could get in the door of the school.

And some wonder why I have lost my mind. [img][/img]

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Jan 18, 2004


Originally posted by Alternative to Mainstream: [b]Quality of life of PA parents/children as compared to those with children with other medical conditions/disabilities. I think it's the DEATH factor. I think it's not being able to control EVERYTHING that your child may come into contact with.

How many of us really honestly look into the future of our PA children and think, what if? What if they do the same stupid things that we did (or I did or Jesse's Father did)? It's not the same for a PA child. Not that I would condone my drunken teenage behaviour with either of my children, but when we're talking about Jesse, it's a whole other ball game. What about when they become sexually active?

Do we start worrying about stuff that's going to happen down the road earlier than other parents?


*for me*? and in my highly individual, personal, and unique situation:

[i]I was extremely concerned for my children before they were concieved.[/i] Extremely. Actually, PA/Nuts (among other things) is something I feel [i]I have a handle on[/i] and have confidence in my cubs ability to eventually grip it with the same confidence.

Now take driving. [b]There's a terrifying thing [i]to me[/i][/b]. Before even now, contemplating just [i]the idea[/i] of either cub (careful as they are) behind a wheel can send me into a mental tizzy. A [b]tizzy[/b], I tell you. Knowing what I know, and seeing what I have seen.

The idea of my cubs in a car piloted by another youth of legal age to drive? [i]Too much for me to bear.[/i] Won't go there as of yet. Hoping the driving age is raised before I have to confront such issues. Raised significantly. (Not that age is a guarantee of safe driving practices either, but possibly, it will give me longer to figure this one out.)

Maybe it's just me.

On Feb 7, 2004

I have PA, and personally I don't feel "psychologically affected"... except, maybe, slightly stronger will-power... has anyone else experienced this? I see a lot of foods that I'd love to eat, but "may contain" peanuts, and I have to keep myself from eating them. I think that this makes it easier to avoid other things, too. I guess this is probably one of the only good side effects of PA...

On Feb 8, 2004


click on to lastest news to see study .


On Feb 8, 2004


Originally posted by smilegirl123: [b]I have PA, and personally I don't feel "psychologically affected"... except, maybe, slightly stronger will-power... has anyone else experienced this? I see a lot of foods that I'd love to eat, but "may contain" peanuts, and I have to keep myself from eating them. I think that this makes it easier to avoid other things, too. I guess this is probably one of the only good side effects of PA...[/b]

Thank you smilegirl. This is wonderful to hear because you have a long life ahead of you and have figured out how to integrate PA into your life and come up smiling. peggy

On Feb 8, 2004


Originally posted by smilegirl123: [b]I have PA, and personally I don't feel "psychologically affected"... [/b]

Same with me... PA is just one of the other hazards in this world that I must navigate around. I worry more about some drunk driver crashing in to me than I do about my PA. At least I can try to control what I eat, but I can't control a drunk driver smashing into my car (I don't have a car, but I do rent cars and borrow my parent's car sometimes).

I have had my PA my entire life, so I don't even know of a life without it, so it feels normal to be PA for me. I don't have any fear of going out to eat in restaurants or eating food in general. I just do research, take precautions, and if I have any doubts, I don't eat the item.

I know some people with PA are affected more than me. I have read of someone (can't remember who) who is a teenager, and the mother posted here that he will never eat outside of his house. I feel sad when I read this, as he is missing out on his life.. missing out on going out with his friends... not being able to travel... and it is unnecessary.. the PA is controlling the individual, when it should be the individual controlling the PA.

It can be scary thinking that taking a bite of a contaminated cookie could result in my death... but there are so many other scary things in this world lately (SARS, mad cow, flu, drunk drivers, terrorist threats, anthrax, ricin, criminals with handguns, North Korea has a nuclear weapon and missiles, etc)... we can't spend our lives worrying about everything or we'll never enjoy life.

Take precautions, be careful, enjoy life. I have PA, but I do not believe it has a psychological effect on my life. The main effect it has is that I have to be really careful eating food, and have to avoid certain food items, but if that's it, I don't have any problems with it, as there are other individuals out there with MS, ALS, cancer, and other terrible diseases etc who are much worse off than I am.

On Jun 23, 2004

Simply re-raising. [img][/img]

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Jun 24, 2004

Yes my ds is 4.5 yrs old and he is very cautious he asks friends if food is safe for him, and is generally fine.

On the other side of things lately he is hung up on death, calling 911 and ambulance rides if he eats a peanut, we have told him that there are many reasons for an ambulance ride. I'm starting to think I talk to him to much about it, he learned about 911 at preschool and put it together with his peanut allergy.

On Jun 24, 2004

mattchrismom, how often do you speak with your son about his allergy?

How often do you speak about his allergy when he's within ear shot?

Best wishes! [img][/img]


On Jun 24, 2004

I think age and the support of friends plays a big part in this. Scott is 9 and has FANTASTIC friends. These 9 year old friends make sure their parents don't pack anything in their lunches that could hurt Scott. These friends make sure that the parents provide a peanut free cake so Scott can come to their parties and have the same as everyone else. And as a family, we have families we camp with most weekends in the summer and they all avoid any peanut products or even the 'may contain' so Scott doesn't even feel different and we don't have to worry about what he is getting into.

Of course there are times when we have to miss going somewhere, or Scott can't have something - but you can always substitute it with something else - possibly something better.

Scott used to hope that he would outgrow his allergy (cause his grandmother kept saying he would!) After he had the blood test which showed the severity of the allergy and that it was not likely he would outgrow it, he was upset for awhile.

We just reinforce that everyone has different challenges to face in life - this is his (and ours).


On Jun 24, 2004

Mostly just when we are shopping or going somewhere like a birthday party and he can't have the cake and has to have a "special treat" I tell other parents not always the first time but if it looks like he is becoming friends with there child or even if the topic comes up (medic alert bracelet)

He brings it up more because friends and cousins like and eat peanut butter away from him, and he hears about PB&J sandwhiches on tv or whatever he usually initiates the conversation around our house I think he is just starting to realize that it makes him alittle different. even though I try not to let it to much.

On Jun 25, 2004

Quite the opposite in my DD's case, or so it would seem at the moment. She thinks anyone who WANTS to eat peanuts needs to have their brain checked. Maybe she'll feel differently when she's more socially involved (she's five years old), but for now, its the rest of the world with a problem as far as she's concerned.